VA’s BEST OF 2015: GREAT TUNES FROM A ROTTEN YEAR

VA's Best of 2015 Great Tunes From A Rotten Year

(Graphic by VA)

My year-end recap is appearing late, just as it usually did back on Open Salon.  But I see this as a victory that I am even getting this up online as my blogging has largely been in deep freeze since the shuttering of Open Salon—which housed the former flagship (and much more widely read) version of this blog—in March 2015.

OS shutting down is but just one fabaroony event of many that helped make 2015 a particularly rotten, rotten year for me (and I had thought 2012 was a bad one…).  Mind you, last year seemed like a less than fine one around the world as well as for a high proportion of people I know, for seemingly a variety of reasons.  That’s the nature of life, sometimes, so I guess I’m not an outlier in that regard.  Misery and company, etc. etc.

Enough of the Deborah Downer … On the plus side, there was lots of terrific tuneage and related media to lift the spirits.  And so, without further adieu, here are 15 foci from 15: the soundtrack highlights to one crappadoodles set of twelve months, starting with … Read the rest of this entry »


8 x 11: My “Best of” Musical Favourites from 2011

Best of 2011BLOG Photo

(Photo/Graphic by VA)

NOTE TO READERS: Owing to the March 2015 closure of OpenSalon.com — which was my primary publishing platform, where I initiated this blog and concert series project, and was where most of my pieces were accessed — I need to plug up a few blog-holes (i.e., post-up here a clutch of early Open Salon blog entries that I never transferred to this cyberabode).  This here post is one of those orphaned Ghosts of Blogging Past that needs a re-debut.

In advance of my Best of 2015 re-cap (appearing shortly), here is my second year-end music recap from February 2012: 8 x 11: My “Best of” Musical Favourites from 2011.   While I couldn’t order my fave long players and tracks at the time, I can certainly do so now from the perspective of four years on.  My revised lists would now be …

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VA-Tel presents 20 OUTTASIGHT XMAS SENSATIONS! (Xmas #8)

VA-Tel presents 20 Outtasight Xmas Sensations(Cover by VariousArtists; Pics grabbed from ye olde Internet)

20 Sensational Hits! 20 Sensational Stars!

Here’s some fun’n’hip shakin’ musical accompaniment for the annual Santafest.  This splendiferous list mostly avoids the obvious or overly solemn, and should get the gang groovin’ at your seasonal shindig while helping to mask the sound of partygoers vomiting in the bathroom after too many Baileys … or drive everyone swiftly out the door, depending on the circles you run in.  (A playlist of this terrific 20 can be found over on my YouTube channel, VATV). Read the rest of this entry »


185. In The Flesh: Blondie, July 10, 2014 (& their mid-70s birth)

Ottawa Bluesfest 2014 Blondie wristband variousartists

Blondie’s 40th and Ottawa Bluesfest’s 20th

185. In The Flesh: Blondie, Ottawa Bluesfest, LeBreton Flats, Ontario, Thursday July 10, 2014.  Approx. $50

I first encountered Blondie in the pages of NYC-based Rock Scene magazine in the summer of 1975.  It was a single page feature, appearing less than a year after the group’s formation and first shows at CBGBs.  Blondie had begun by opening for the also-nascent Ramones who had similarly been popping up in recent Rock Scene issues.  Indeed, most of the mid-70s NYC underground first came to my attention via RS.

Retrospectively, I now see what an odd, prescient publication it was on a few fronts.

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RIP Lou Reed: “Between Thought & Expression Lies A Lifetime”

BLOGP LouNY89

One of the greats; not to be forgotten. (Photo by VA: A lifesize Lou that used to live on my wall at the top of a stairwell).

“What would I see if I could walk away from me” from “Candy Says”“Between thought and expression lies a lifetime” from “Some Kinda Love”… my two favourite lyrics by Lou Reed … or anyone else for that matter.

I’m not a natural off-the-cuff writer but decided that I had to put something up to mark the passing of Lou Reed.  I couldn’t let it pass without my saying something.  Something like, I’m absolutely gutted.

The Velvet Underground and The Beatles are my two favourite groups, so the impact of Reed’s work upon my world has been huge. Read the rest of this entry »


177. We Rule the School: Belle & Sebastian, Saturday July 6, 2013

BLOG Bluesfest wristbands 2013

 This year’s much-used Ottawa Bluesfest full fest passes featuring their mascot, Leadbelly.  He waved at me on Day One.  I think he looks like a blue version of the Just For Laughs gremlin.

177. We Rule the School: Belle & Sebastian, Saturday July 6, 2013, Ottawa Bluesfest, LeBreton Flats, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, $19.50 (as part of 10-day pass)

I first heard of Belle & Sebastian shortly after their mid-‘90s emergence but didn’t get to actually hear them until just after the turn of this century.  A younger friend of ours from that time was over one night when Donovan came on a CD compilation that we were listening to.  “Who is this?,” he asked.  “It sounds like Belle & Sebastian.” Read the rest of this entry »


175. I’m Your Man: Leonard Cohen, December 7, 2012

leonard-cohen-ottawa-2012-ticket

Yes, it was pricey.  Yes, it was worth it.

175. I’m Your Man: Leonard Cohen, Friday December 7, 2012, Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, $171.04 

“I love to speak with Leonard,
He’s a sportsman and a shepherd,
He’s a lazy bastard living in a suit”
from “Going Home” (2012)

I’ll cut right to the chase: this was one of the very best concerts I have ever seen in close to 40 years of gig-going.  In my all-time Top 20.  Earlier last year,  I lamented not having been able to see Cohen last time around in my 20 Performances I Missed posting, thinking he would not tour again when I wrote it only to find myself holding December tickets by the time I published the piece.

I had good reason to believe he would never tour again. Read the rest of this entry »